1) Southside With You
What is it about: The film is set in the summer of 1989 in Chicago and tells the story (with some cinematic liberties) of the first date between future President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Parker Sawyers plays the President with Tika Sumpter taking on the role of Michelle.
Why we should be excited: While the concept of the Obamas first date seems like a stretch, it has to be better than the last time they made a movie about a President while he was in office (looking at you Oliver Stone’s “W”). The trailer sells the romance pretty well with both leads really leaning into the roles without doing impressions of these very identifiable personalities. Also, they sit and discuss Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” which should be ticket price worthy enough.
“Southside with You” opens on August 26.
2) Hands of Stone
What is it about: The film tells the story of boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and his rise to the top alongside the legendary trainer, Ray Arcel (Robert DeNiro), including a fight between him and Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond).
Why we should be excited: It is always kind of cool to see DeNiro return to the ring and do a boxing movie even when he isn’t putting on the gloves. It seems like he is pretty hit-or-miss with most roles these days and this seems like one shepherded to pulling out a classic and great performance from the legendary actor. Ramirez has silently been rising up the ranks lately and this could be his big Oscar-caliber role even if it doesn’t seem to have the punch that “Creed” had last year.
“Hands of Stone” opens on August 26.
3) The Light Between Oceans
What is it about: Based on the novel by M.L. Stedman, the story follows a lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander), who are living off the coast of Western Australia when they find a baby that washes ashore. They decide to raise it, but the situation becomes more complicated when a woman (Rachel Weisz) comes to town and may be the birth mother.
Why we should be excited: Not only does this star two immensely talented actors, but it also stars two beautiful people who are (might be) dating! Vikander just took home an Oscar for Best Actress in “The Danish Girl” while Fassbender has consistently been one of the better actors in the industry over the past few years. The trailers are promising a tear-jerker so get ready to ball your eyes out.
“The Light Between Oceans” opens on September 2.
What is it about: From director Clint Eastwood, the film stars Tom Hanks as Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who became a hero when he glided his plane along the Hudson River in 2009, which saved the 155 crew members and passengers. The movie also stars Aaron Eckhart, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney, and Jerry Ferrara.
Why we should be excited: Eastwood has been hit-or-miss lately (as one of the people not completely in love with “American Sniper”), but he is still a name to take notice of whenever a new project is coming out. It is hard to believe that this is his first time working with Hanks and this seems like a role tailor made for the actor as he plays an American hero dealing with the pitfalls of fame and scrutiny.
“Sully” opens on September 9.
5) Bridget Jones’ Baby
What is it about: The film picks up where the last one in the series, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” left off in 2004 with Bridget (Renee Zellweger) still single and barely making it through life until she runs into the complication of having a baby with two possible dads, played by Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey.
Why we should be excited: I guess if you like the previous two movies, it will be nice to return to the world of neurotic British people having problems. Zellweger hasn’t been in too many projects lately so she is a welcome presence back on screen and this is Firth’s first time returning to the role as an Oscar winner. Also, I don’t think Patrick Dempsey ages and that is frustrating.
“Bridget Jones’ Baby” opens on September 16.
6) Blair Witch
What is it about: Coming out of nowhere after a surprise announcement at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, the film is a sequel to the out-of-nowhere hit from 1999, “The Blair Witch Project.” In this version, the brother of one of the main characters from the first movie discovers video showing what he believes to be recordings of his sister in the woods of the Blair Witch so naturally, he sets out with some friends to find his lost sibling. The film is directed by horror aficionado, Adam Wingard, who also helmed “You’re Next” and “The Guest.”
Why we should be excited: I don’t find “The Blair Witch Project” to be a good movie in any respects with the only impressive thing about it being how well they marketed that film. This one has caught my attention due to Wingard being attached to it with his film, “The Guest,” being an exercise is chilling horror and stylish action directing. Much like the original, this is a cast of unknowns, but it will surely keep you frightened.
“Blair Witch” opens on September 16.
What is it about: Director Oliver Stone takes us into the story of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and how the former NSA employee leaked thousands of classified documents to the press in 2013. The movie also features Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, and Nicolas Cage.
Why we should be excited: Stone has been in a rut lately and the trailer for this film doesn’t inspire much confidence that this was a temporary thing. For those who have seen “Citizen Four” on HBO, there really isn’t much incentive to seek out this version when the documentary, which won an Oscar, is as chilling and informative as anything Stone could come up with. Also, what accent is Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing? Stop, please.
“Snowden” opens on September 16.
8) The Magnificent Seven
What is it about: This remake of a remake is directed by “Training Day” and “White House Down” director Antoine Fuqua and stars both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke from that first movie with other members of the cast including Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Matt Bomer. The film follows seven gunmen in the Old West, who have to come together and help a poor village, which is being pillaged by thieves.
Why we should be excited: The cast should earn your ticket dollars alone because what better experience at the movies will you be getting this year than Denzel, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke gun-slinging and taking down bad guys in the West. Fuqua knows action well and the trailers have been selling this movie as a fun blockbuster with a talented cast.
“The Magnificent Seven” opens on September 23.
9) Deepwater Horizon
What is it about: Peter Berg of “Lone Survivor” fame directs this movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, and John Malkovich. The movie follows the story of a team on an offshore drilling rig, which exploded in April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Why we should be excited: Berg and Wahlberg struck gold with “Lone Survivor” and this seems to be carrying that patriotic, heroism vibe to it. The trailers promise massive explosions and lots of yelling and reaching from Wahlberg with the cast giving us what should be a very engaging and thrilling blockbuster drama.
“Deepwater Horizon” opens on September 30.
10) The Girl on the Train
What is it about: Based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, the story follows Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) as she takes the train to work each day in London and passes by her old house. One day, as they’re passing the house, she sees something shocking and wakes up the next day with the sneaking suspicion that something bad has happened. The film is directed by Tate Taylor, who is known for “The Help” and “Get On Up,” with a cast that also includes Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Haley Bennett, Laura Prepon, and Rebecca Ferguson.
Why we should be excited: This book has been heralded the sequel to “Gone Girl” in terms of tone and the movie is definitely trying to sell us on that. The first trailer has threads of the David Fincher-directed thriller mixed with the sexuality of “Fifty Shades of Grey” with Blunt’s character being in the middle of it. She is a talented actress and it seems like she is being given a big stage to work on, but I’m not sold on Taylor being the right director to sell the intrigue like Fincher could.
“The Girl on the Train” opens on October 7.
11) The Birth of a Nation
What is it about: The film is written and directed by the first-time director Nate Parker, who took home the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for his work on this project. The movie follows Nat Turner (Parker), as he rises from child to adult and uses his knowledge of the Bible to be a preacher to the other slaves. As he works, he notices the scope of slavery and decides to become a different leader for them. The rest of the cast includes Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Gabrielle Union.
Why we should be excited: People were raving about the film after Sundance and how well Parker was at directing it, and the first trailer seemed to verify that. It plays so evocatively and at times, in a very visceral way. Parker seems to try to sway it from previous stories of slavery such as “12 Years a Slave” and tell a different story in a different light and this instantly looks to be a major Oscar contender both for him and his cast.
“The Birth of a Nation” opens on October 7.
12) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
What is it about: The sequel to the 2012 action film, “Jack Reacher,” finds Tom Cruise once again in the title role and on the run. Not much is known about the plot, but it seems to center around Reacher teaming up with military specialist Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) to take down a plot from the inside. The movie is directed by Cruise’s director from “The Last Samurai,” Edward Zwick, and also stars Aldis Hodge, Robert Knepper, and Danika Yarosh.
Why should we be excited: Watching Tom Cruise beat people up is just fun. That’s really the only reason. The first “Jack Reacher” movie was solid and while these don’t have the world-travelling fun that ensues in “Mission: Impossible,” there is something nice about the small-level action and more hand-to-hand moments that this series offers. Smulders is also a very lively actress to fans of the Marvel movies and her role as Maria Hill.
“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” opens on October 21.
13) A Monster Calls
What is it about: From director J.A. Bayona, who will be taking over the “Jurassic Park” franchise soon, the film follows a boy seeks help from a tree monster as he tries to cope with his mother’s terminal illness. Felicity Jones stars as the mother with newcomer Lewis MacDouglass playing the boy and Liam Neeson voicing the tree monster. Toby Kebbell, Sigourney Weaver, and Geraldine Chaplin also star.
Why we should be excited: The trailer made it seem like a more exotic version of Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG” from earlier this year with stunning visuals and a much more dramatic plot. Bayona earned enough credit for this movie and “The Impossible” to be picked to take over for Colin Trevorrow with “Jurassic World 2” so it may be worth seeing this one to see if he can pull it off. Judging from the trailer, he may be perfect.
“A Monster Calls” opens on October 21.
What is it about: Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon in the third movie in the “Da Vinci Code” series by director Ron Howard. This time, Langdon wakes up in Italy with amnesia and has to team-up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to uncover what he is forgetting and foil a global plot of destruction. The film also stars Ben Foster, Omar Sy, and Irrfan Khan.
Why we should be excited: The movies in this series have been popular even if the last one, “Angels and Demons,” was not as critically well-received. It seems odd to take 10 years to return to this franchise, but it seems like Howard and Hanks have a story they want to tell and the biblical history has always been a fascinating point.
“Inferno” opens on October 28.
15) Doctor Strange
What is it about: The latest entry from Marvel stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Steven Strange, a surgeon who is forced to re-examine his life after his career is destroyed and a sorcerer (Tilda Swinton) takes him under her wing and trains him to hone his magical gifts to rid the world of evil. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson with a cast that also includes Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Benjamin Bratt.
Why we should be excited: This looks like it may be Marvel’s most different and weird movie yet and I say that will the utmost excitement. They have teased a movie that will include mind-bending visuals and the trailers for this movie seem to promise that with moments that could put “Inception” to shame. Cumberbatch has been waiting for the blockbuster property to work on and he selected this one with the hopes it will churn out Marvel gold like the other entries. The biggest hurdle will be whether or not audiences will buy the eccentricities of this new hero.
“Doctor Strange” opens on November 4.
16) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
What is it about: Leaving the more modern setting of “Harry Potter,” this spin-off takes us to the 1920s in New York City where recent Hogwarts castout, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), is interacting with the wizarding world of the United States and collecting information for his study in the magical creatures of the area. The film is directed by previous “Potter” director David Yates from a script by J.K. Rowling with Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, and Jon Voight rounding out the cast.
Why we should be excited: I doubt this needs to be hyped up anymore, but any new “Harry Potter” adventures are always exciting. Redmayne is one of the hot ticket actors right now and is hoping to make this “his series.” The biggest question facing this proposed trilogy is how it will separate itself from the “Potter” movies. Having some similarities is fine, but completely retreading what they did before will get redundant and boring very quickly.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” opens on November 18
What is it about: The latest Disney Animation movie follows a young woman named Moana (voiced by Auli’l Cravalho), who uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled land and is joined by the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The movie is directed by “Great Mouse Detective” and “Lilo & Stitch” directors Ron Clements and John Musker with songs by “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda and a cast that also includes Alan Tudyk and Jemaine Clement.
Why we should be excited: The trailers for this already look utterly charming and the fact that names such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Taika Waititi (who wrote the script), and Dwayne Johnson are involved should get people stoked. Disney has been doing great work in the animation department lately and already have a bonafide hit this year with “Zootopia.” I assume they’ll have another with this one.
“Moana” opens on November 23.
18) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
What is it about: The first “Star Wars” spin-off or anthology movie will be taking place before the events of the original trilogy with a band of rebels being sent on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. “Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards helms the film with a cast that includes Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelson, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, and James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Darth Vader.
Why we should be excited: It’s “Star Wars.” I don’t need to pump you up anymore for this. The most exciting quality is the concept, which sounds like it will explore new avenues in the “Star Wars” universe while also playing with some of the lore we recognize from the previous movies. This looks like a lot of fun and the cast is absolutely stellar.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens on December 16.
What is it about: This science fiction movie comes from “The Imitation Game” director Morten Tyldum and stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as passengers on a spacecraft that is taking thousands of sleeping people to a planet to colonize. Lawrence and Pratt’s characters wake up 60 years too early and are stuck on this ship together for that span of time.
Why we should be excited: Other than the fact that Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are together? The concept sounds very similar to something like “Moon” or “Gravity,” but with a more romantic angle. Plus you have two of the most charismatic actors working today stuck on a spaceship together. What could go wrong?
“Passengers” opens on December 21.
20) Assassin’s Creed
What is it about: Based on the popular video game series, “Assassin’s Creed” stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, who is taken to a secret facility and put into a machine known as the Animus, which allows him to travel back in time and re-enact the life of his ancestor, Aguilar, who lived during the Spanish Inquisition. The movie is directed by Fassbender’s “Macbeth” director, Justin Kurzel, and features a cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Ariane Labed.
Why we should be excited: The game’s concept has always begged to be put on the big screen and the first trailer for this seems to live up to that scope. While video game movies have tended to be flops, this one is hoping to buck the trend and possibly re-invent the genre. Will it succeed? Who knows. Will we get to stare at a shirtless Michael Fassbender? Absolutely.
“Assassin’s Creed” opens on December 21.
Time for you to weigh in! Which movie do you want to see?